The dining room at Lark on the Park in 2014

The dining room at Lark on the Park in 2014

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

The latest casualty in a volatile season for Dallas restaurants is Lark on the Park, Shannon Wynne's breezy American bistro across from Klyde Warren Park downtown. 

The restaurateur announced today that he would shutter Lark on Sunday, six years after opening it, to revamp the restaurant as a "more casual, less pricey and more approachable" spot helmed by what he described as an operating partner, rather than a prominent Dallas chef.

"It's somebody I've been watching who deserves to be in the limelight," said Wynne, who declined to name the new partner because negotiations are still in progress. "This person has a following that is pretty significant and I think the new concept will be fun and good for the neighborhood."

Wynne said that the restaurant has been struggling for the past six or eight months, suffering from increased competition from high-end restaurants both in the city and in the northern suburbs. "I'm not saying we're without any fault," he said, "but we've had nearly six years of pretty loyal sales and in the last year it's just really gone south. Or north, as the case may be."

The name, the airy interior with its chalkboard artwork, and most everything else will also change. Wynne expects the new restaurant will open in May; he plans to place current staff in his other restaurants, which include the Meddlesome Moth and Mudhen Meat and Greens.

Lark made a splash when it opened in 2013. The husband-wife executive chef team of Melody Bishop and Dennis Kelley earned three stars from then-critic Leslie Brenner, who praised the airy décor and the California sensibility of the menu. In a sign of the financial troubles to come, the couple was laid off in 2017 because the restaurant "simply couldn't afford two chefs anymore," Wynne's partner Keith Schlabs told GuideLive. 

The next edition of the restaurant will swing away from a chef-driven concept from the beginning. "I would rather have very talented cooks in the kitchen and a strong personality up front, than a strong personality in the kitchen," Wynne said.

The current chef, Ryan Barnett, has taken perhaps a more eclectic approach with the menu, which includes dishes ranging from sea scallops with Burgundy truffles to pimento cheese fritters.

From now until the closing dinner on Sunday, Wynne and his partners Schlabs and Larry Richardson are offering discounted prices on all of it. Or as their announcement said, "Expect the liquor and wine to flow."

Updated at 3:22 p.m. to add details on the operating partner and Wynne's quote about putting a strong personality in the front of the house.  

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